A pilot crashed his light aircraft while trying to take off from a Norfolk sugar beet field where he had made an emergency landing.

The 59-year-old had been heading from Coldharbour Farm Airfield, Cambridgeshire, to Fenland Airfield, Lincolnshire, via Hunstanton, when his aircraft began to run roughly.

According to a report from the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB), ice had begun to form in its carburettor and as the plane, a 1946-built Luscombe 8E, was flying over King's Lynn it began to lose altitude.

The pilot decided to land in the only field he could see without tall crops growing in it.

He managed to bring the aircraft down safely and undamaged in a sugar beet field close to East Winch, just to the east of Lynn, near the A47.

After checking over the engine and detecting the problem, the pilot started the plane to make sure it was running smoothly.

He noticed long tractor tracks in the sugar beet field and decided to use them as a makeshift runway to avoid having to dismantle the plane for land transport.

He removed the 'spats' - coverings over the wheels - and manoeuvred the aircraft so he had 600m of track in front of him.

But despite the long take-off run, the aircraft could not accelerate enough to lift off the main wheels.

When the pilot shut off the throttle and began to brake, the aircraft veered to the left and the wheels caught in the sugar beet. The tail lifted up and the plane nosed into the ground.

It came to a stop upside down having sustained serious damage to the frame and ‘shock loading’ to the engine.

The pilot, who had 1,051 hours of flying experience, was able to kick the door open and escape the wreckage unhurt.

The crash happened at around noon on July 23 this year. The report by the AAIB has just been published.

It has issued guidance on the suitable dimensions for takeoff strips, noting that the tractor tracks used by the pilot were each less than one metre wide with almost no margin for error or correction.

It also has information on the recommended height of grass that such aircraft should takeoff from.

It notes that grass height should be no more than 30% of the diameter of the aircraft’s main wheels and ideally shorter.

The height of the sugar beet crop was estimated at around the same diameter as the main wheels.